How to answer the 16 most common interview questions

How to Answer the 16 Most Common Interview Questions

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you were sent a list of the interview questions you were going to be asked a few days before your actual interview? Sadly, this never happens, but have no fear. We are going to provide you with a short list of 16 most common interview questions and answers that you can guarantee you will be asked in your upcoming interviews.

We have researched and compiled data from over 10 different online articles from sites such as Forbes, Glassdoor, Monster, Themuse, and Theinterviewguys to save you time and give you only the very best and most common interview questions and answers.

Get excited, your next interview is going to be a piece of cake. (Not literally, but you can definitely celebrate after by eating a piece of cake, or two).

1. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

This is by far the most common interview question of all. This is not your opportunity to tell the hiring manager your life story. Come up with a short (1-2 minute) pitch that describes your work experience leading up to this moment and conclude by explaining how all of this experience has set you up for success in this specific role. If you are entry-level and do not have work experience, you can talk about relevant school projects or life experiences.

For more details on this interview question check out Tell Me About Yourself.

2. What interests you about our company?

Make sure that you have spent a few minutes researching the company that you are interviewing at prior to the interview. You should know what they do, whom they serve, and why they do what they do. Show interest and passion in some aspect of the company and you will have no problem answering this most common interview question.

For more details on this interview question check out Why Do You Want To Work Here?

3. What interests you about this job?

Focus on the work itself and not things about the job such as salary, benefits, etc. The employer wants to know that you are truly passionate about the work you will be doing. Tie in something from the position and explain how you love doing it. (e.g., “I love marketing because I am fascinated by the thrill of researching customer needs/wants and finding a way to appeal to each person in a unique and effective way. I believe in the product that your company offers and would love to help educate others on the benefits they would receive from it.”) If you can’t be genuine with your answer, then you probably shouldn’t be applying to the position in the first place!

For more details on this interview question check out What Interests You Most About This Position?

4. Why should we hire you?

This is your opportunity to brag a little bit about yourself. This is not the time to be modest! Tell the employer how your skills line up with the job duties, how excited you will be to come to work every day, and how well you will blend with the company culture.

For more details on this interview question check out Why Should We Hire You?

5. What are your greatest strengths?

Another great opportunity to shine! You should actually look forward to being asked this most common interview question. Take the chance to affirm a skill that you have relevant to the position and give your best example of a time you put this skill into practice. (e.g., “I am an amazing salesperson. In my last role, I was quickly nicknamed the selling machine because in my first week of employment I sold more printers than the most senior rep. in the office”).

For more details on this interview question check out What Are Your Strengths?

6. What are your greatest weaknesses?

Although this is one of the most common interview questions, it still seems to throw people off guard. Find your happy place. This is definitely a good question to think of before the interview because your answer does not have to be job specific so you can pretty much use it for any interview you go into. DO NOT tell the hiring manager that you are lazy, don’t show up to work on time, and like to leave early. DO tell the manager a weakness that could also be perceived as a positive (e.g., “I tend to overwork myself. I sometimes skip breaks and lunch so that I do not lose my train of thought”). Although this is technically a bad thing since you are required to take breaks by law, most employers will light up with joy inside when they hear you say this.

For more details on this interview question check out What Are Your Weaknesses?

7. What is your greatest accomplishment?

There are many variations of this question which makes it one of the most common interview questions. This question should be answered in a fairly similar manner to the greatest strength question. Choose a professional accomplishment that can be related to the job you are interviewing for and tell the story. Make sure to choose the most relevant example of all your accomplishments.

For more details on this interview question check out What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?

8. Tell me about a time you dealt with a conflict at work?

The reason you are being asked this question is so your interviewer can understand how you react to conflict in the workplace. Anytime you are asked a question starting with “tell me about a time” you will always want to answer using the S-T-A-R method: Situation – Task – Action – Result. First, briefly provide the context of the situation and task that was being worked on. Next, focus on the action you took to resolve this conflict. Your emphasis should be on highlighting the action that you took which lead to a positive result. For more details on this interview question check out Describe A Time You Dealt With A Conflict At Work.

9. Why are you thinking about leaving your job?

If you are switching industries, make sure to tell them that you realized your true passion is in whatever industry that you are interviewing for. If you are moving to a similar role then make sure to relate the reason you are leaving to how awesome this new company is, not how bad your old company is. Try to avoid speaking negatively about your company at all costs.

For more details on this interview question check out Why Are You Leaving Your Job?

10. What is your dream job?

Trick question! Your answer better be something along the lines of the company you are interviewing at. Otherwise, the employer is going to have a hard time hiring you knowing there is a constant threat of you going elsewhere if you received an offer doing your “dream job”. For more details on this interview question check out What Is Your Dream Job?

11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Make sure that your answer aligns with the job you are interviewing at. This is similar to the previous question “what is your dream job”. If the job you are interviewing at is completely irrelevant to your dream job or where you see yourself in 5 years then that probably isn’t a good fit. Show ambition and eagerness to grow within the company. No hiring manager wants to hear that you want to be doing the exact same thing 5 years from now, they want to know you are going to work hard in order to grow in the company.

For more details on this interview question check out Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?

12. Are you interviewing with any other companies?

Heck yes, you are! If you are interviewing at other companies, don’t be afraid to tell them. Believe it or not interviewing at other companies will increase your chances of getting an offer… and faster! The fact that you are interviewing elsewhere shows the hiring manager that they are not alone in thinking you are a great fit for the job. It reassures their decision to interview you, knowing that others are doing the same. Make sure that when you tell them the companies you are interviewing at, you only mention similar positions, in a similar industry. Otherwise, they may question your genuine passion about the position that they are offering.

For more details on this interview question check out Are You Interviewing With Any Other Companies? 

13. How would your friends describe you?

There are probably 100 adjectives your friends would use to describe you (some nicer than others) so make sure to talk about the most relevant attributes to the job you are interviewing at. Being the guy who can eat more pizza than any of his friends is probably not going to be very beneficial to the interviewer… Saying that your friends would describe you as extremely persistent and providing a relevant example of the time you left your phone on the bus and traveled to 6 different cities to track down the phone would be a better example. For more details on this interview question check out How Would Your Friends Describe You? 

14. What are your salary expectations?

“60% of the time, it works every time…” –Brian Fantana Unfortunately #1: in this scenario, Brian is mistaken. Here’s the secret to salary negotiation. The first person to throw out a number is the loser… 100% of the time. Unfortunately #2: the job seeker is almost always the one who has to go first unless you are a master negotiator. The best thing you can do is research the position and find the estimated pay range using a site like Glassdoor. State the number that you feel comfortable with and don’t be afraid to say a salary on the higher end of this range. This shows that you are confident in your self-worth and also puts you in a good situation if they decide to counter offer.

For more details on this interview question check out What Are Your Salary Expectations?

15. What kind of things do you like to do outside of work?

This most common interview question helps the interviewer to know whether or not you will be a good culture fit. Don’t be afraid, to be honest. Saying that you enjoy snowboarding in the winter and going surfing in the summer is perfectly acceptable. Maybe you are a wine or craft beer connoisseur who likes to travel to different tastings. All of these things are perfectly fine. Let them know that you are not such a stiff and that outside of work you like to have a good time.

For more details on this interview question check out What Kind Of Things Do You Like To Do Outside Of Work?

16. Do you have any questions for me?

This is your opportunity to ask any determining factors about the job. If you are good at interviewing, you won’t just come into the interview with a list of questions written out. Most of those questions are going to get answered throughout the interview anyway. Prove that you were listening throughout the interview and tailor a question to something that you heard or learned in the interview. Maybe you want elaboration on something said previously, or maybe you want to take this opportunity to ask the interviewer what they like about working here. Whatever you ask is usually fine. Try to avoid saying “no, I do not have any questions” at all costs. For more details on this interview question check out Do You Have Any Questions For Me?

P.S. We love you

Did you know there's a company out there that will train you how to answer the most common interview questions? Slamming an interview out of the park can be a really difficult challenge. Why waste time reading blogs online when you could have a Professional train you 1 on 1. Check out Find My Profession to learn more about our interview training and mock interviews.

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